Removing the doors of a Lotus Europa; the realities.

By Geoff Searle




The hinge arrangements of the Europa are famously naff or brilliant value engineering depending on who you ask. Two square bobbins are bonded (inadequately) into the doors top & bottom and a Ĺ inch pivot pin passes up through a bobbin in the top of the sill into a hollow bolt (hinge bush), whose movement within the square bobbin allows adjustment of the doorís ďhangĒ. Then up to a similar arrangement going into the wing. The hinge rod is held in place by a split pin & on the Twin Cam/Special is supposed to come out through a hole in the sill usually covered by the trim piece. (fig1) Fig1


In reality adjustment is a nightmare, durability poor & the hinge rod rusts solid into the hollow bolts & wears away at the bobbins until the time comes for action.


The Classic method (revised)


Remove the trim from the door & the wires from the window motor (especially the bolted earth). Liberally coat the hinge rod & the nuts with penetrating oil within & without the door. Repeat several times over several days. Pray for the gods to smile upon you

 Get hold of a 5/16 UNF bolt at least 4 & ideally 6 inches long & a slide hammer with some way of attaching it to the bolt head. You also require a very high lift jack & tall axle stands or a two post lift as you need to get the hole in the of the sills at least 18inches/50cm in the air. Remove the sill covers, drilling out the pop-rivets in the arches, pulling off the clips attaching the bottom edge to the sillís flange & pulling the covers carefully off where they have been glued along under the chrome trim.  Screw the bolt into the bottom of the hinge pin & hammer it out. Donít forget the door is heavy & up in the air; you will need help to bring it down safely. Donít use mole grips or pipe wrenches in the door as the burrs you raise on the hinge pin will ensure you canít pull it out.


Removing the Door the Neo Classical Method


If you canít get the pin out you have to cut it in situ. I used a padsaw with replaceable hacksaw blades. Open the door and tape a piece of sheet metal on the sill between the door and sill at the hinge pin to protect the sill from the saw your going to cut the pin with. Place a hydraulic jack under the door a raise slightly for clearance. Using a fine metal blade cut the lower pin first then the upper. Donít forget that the cutting stroke needs to be towards you & lubrication with a light oil spray helps a lot. This is a laborious task so take breaks. An alligator saw would do, but positioning it will be tricky. Remember you have to go through a washer before you get to the hinge pin. Try & cut close to the sill/ wing as preserving the head of the hollow bolt may help later. Get help to catch the door so you donít drop it.


Assuming you now have a door with a seized hinge pin on your bench and you are doing more than sorting out the hinge you should next;


Strip the door down


Removing the windows isnít too difficult as long as you know the following; The quarter light is held in by two screws through brackets at the base of the window and a third rivet on the front edge. The main window is held on by a single bracket on the front channel and four rivets hidden beneath the glass channel on the rear & top sections. There also a lot of black gunky stuff you may need to cut with a sharp knife (being careful not to scratch the frame). The quarter light comes out first, you have to press on the front end to clear it from the door surround & then pull it away from the main frame. The window motor & lever comes out through the ďloudspeaker holeĒ at the front of the door, but you have to flip it over so the body of the motor comes out first. Be very careful not to drop the window. To get the door handles off & the door lock (1Ē/26mm nut) you can look through the tiny hole where the screw that holds the door trim on & see the nuts illuminated by a ďstick lightĒ in the bottom of the door. This also makes the door lighter.

Should you decide to strip the door whilst itís on the car once you take off the outside handle make sure you flip the door lock pawl closed so you donít lock yourself out.


Removing the Frozen Hinge Pin


Theoretically you could drill it out with a Ĺ inch drill, but you will almost certainly damage the hollow bolt & have to remove that too. It is 21mm 9/16 inch diameter which is too big a bit for a domestic drill. There is also the problem that household drills run too fast & chatter about so it would be very difficult to do & damaging the bobbin is likely. Grinding off the head of the hollow bolt is feasible, but you would need to be skilled so as not to over heat the glass fibre or even set it alight!


You will need a 1 1/8 inch or 29mm spanner. The problem is there isnít enough room inside the door to get half a flat of movement with the usual length of spanner of this jaw size. You will have the same problem  with adjustables; short enough to move a flat means not enough leverage to get any movement. You need both and ideally 2 combination spanners and an adjustable with jaws at right-angles to itís handle. I also used a Dremel with a fibre cutting disc & a big nut splitter.


Fig2 Custom Door Adjustment Spanner


Alternatively buy a spare 1-1/8Ē box/open end (combination) wrench. Cut the end off at a desired length say 5-1/2 inches / 14cm(fig2). Grind the working ends to the thickness of the jamb nuts and cut the box end open as shown. These custom spanners are then very helpful for reattaching the door.

Fig3 Access Hole

Cut an access hole for the upper set of nuts by extending the existing one in the front edge of the door (fig 3); this needs to be big enough to allow at least half a flat of spanner movement  (22 Ĺ degrees). First see if youíre lucky & the nuts come loose following penetrating oil (on one side of mine they did) you should be able to get them off with a combination of spanners. Then cut the hinge rod, either using the Dremel or a hacksaw with the blade inverted going from the hole in the front edge of the door to the ďloudspeaker holeĒ. Donít cut the hinge pin before this because the alternative & more violent method goes like this;


Look at the head of the hollow bolt, can you get the bolt & pin to revolve in the bobbin ? You may wish to use mole grips on the hinge pin to help, but if you donít need to do this then you can cut a section out to make a gap to slip the nut splitter through. Then use the Dremel to cut the deepest slit you can manage into both nuts on the hollow bolt without damaging the bobbin. You could do a line of drill holes as an alternative, but I believe this would require a second access hole in the front of the door to get to the lower nuts. Otherwise you then twist the hollow bolts round so that you can line up the nut splitter & use it to spread the nuts before using the spanner again. Stabilise the nut splitter with an adjustable to avoid pressure on the bobbins. Be very careful that you are always able to hold the hollow bolt somehow to allow the nuts to move either using a mole grip on the frozen hinge pin or a spanner on the head. If you end up with a rotating hollow bolt & nothing to grip I would suggest carefully drilling around whatever remains of the bolt head to destroy the head & washer so it falls into the door.


Approaches that donít work


Impetuosity. Nut splitters alone arenít strong enough & youíll tear the bobbins out. Heat will set the door on fire. There isnít enough room for a standard angle grinder & the large diameter of the cutting disc makes it impossible not to damage the bobbin & potentially a lot of other things including you.


This task will take a couple of hours if it all goes well, a couple of months on & off if it doesnít. But love of old sports cars is like an affair with an older women. When theyíre young all you need to do is throw money at them, as they mature they require more thought effort & attention.


Thanks to Whit Davis for his advice (& Photo) in the production of this article.